It's important to protest. It's important to make your voices heard. Take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe, but make sure the world knows that you matter, and that you deserve the same respect that everyone else gets. Here are 11 things going through my head as a white woman during the Richmond, Virginia riots.
1. It’s not fair to you.
It's not fair to you to have to watch your back everywhere you go. It's not fair that your people are being murdered for no reason, and in cold blood, by the very people who are supposed to protect you. You have the right to the same protection we do, and you aren't getting it. Black lives do matter. Please know that that's more than just the name of your movement, it's very much the truth.
2. You have a right to live and thrive.
You have the right to live a full, happy life free of the stresses that our society causes you. You deserve to not have to worry about your children walking home from school, taking a walk in the park or going to the grocery store. You deserve to have an interaction with someone in a position of authority without the fear of being tear gassed, beaten or murdered.
3. You have a right to be angry.
George Floyd was murdered in cold blood, along with so many others. Please be angry. Please stand up for your friends and family. This has been going on far too long, and it's been shoved under the rug too many times. Racism needs to end, and you shouldn't feel unsafe because of the color of your skin.
4. Your reaction is necessary.
We're at a major turning point in history right now. These protests and riots are going to be in the history books of your children and grandchildren. Please go to protests, please stand your ground. Do it for yourself. Do it for Mr. Floyd. Do it for your future children so that they can live in a world where racism is shameful.
5. Show your signs.
Get your cardboard, your poster board, your markers and your creativity ready to go. Let us see your signs. Let us know what issues you're facing. Signs are a way to let your individual voice be heard. Paint or draw your signs, hold them high and proud and make sure everyone knows how you feel. Right now, your feelings are going to change history.
6. Take pictures.
Document everything. Take pictures while you protest and make sure the world knows what you're seeing. When it gets crazy, when they start launching rubber bullets and tear gassing you, please film it. Show the world that you were protesting peacefully. Show the world that you weren't doing anything wrong. Make it known that you don't deserve the violence.
7. Cover your face and eyes.
If you protest, please cover your face. For one, it protects your identity, but more importantly, having your face covered will help if you get tear gassed. Having your mouth and nose covered won't prevent you from feeling the effects, but it will keep you from breathing in too much of it.
8. Bring water.
It's June. It's hot. Please don't let yourself get dehydrated out in the heat. And, an additional bonus to having water with you is the ability to rinse your face off if you get tear gassed. Videos have been posted of people screaming and crying from the gas, so having a way to rinse your face is a plus.
9. Know your phone numbers.
Protesters are being arrested left and right. Most of them are protesting peacefully and still being arrested and charged. Before you go out, write a few phone numbers on your arm in permanent ink. You'll want to include a local attorney who is dedicated to helping the cause, a bail fund and a friend or family member. If you don't come home, your family will probably panic, so it would be best to let them know where you are.
10. Stay safe.
Please, please, please stay safe. Stand your ground, let your voice be heard, but please be safe while doing it.
11. Please donate to the cause.
Donate to help the Black Lives Matter movement grow and donate so that everyone can help each other. A few donation options are The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Block, or the GoFundMe that has been set up for George Floyd's family.